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Publications archive - Human settlements


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Heating,Ventilation and Air Conditioning

For Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Cartoon image - Fact Sheet 2 - Heating,Ventilation and Air Conditioning

Climate Change

Climate change caused by greenhouse gases is one of the most serious challenges facing our community. Human actions—particularly burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and land clearing—are generating more greenhouse gases. These additional greenhouse gases trap more heat and raise the earth’s surface temperature. This is called the enhanced greenhouse effect—it causes global warming and is changing our climate.

The impacts of climate change will have social, environmental and economic consequences that will affect all communities across the globe.

Why Small and Medium Enterprises

Greenhouse gas abatement is not just for the big end of town. Climate change will affect all of us and therefore it is to everyone’s benefit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most measures to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions will save you money in the long term, increasing profitability. Some measures will even help to improve productivity and the marketability of your business. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be seen as an opportunity to provide your business with a strong business advantage.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

Heating and cooling typically accounts for up to 40 per cent of businesses energy bills. Significant savings can be made when constructing a new building through clever design and installation of efficient equipment. There are many simple steps that can be taken to also create savings from existing systems.

Simple No Cost Changes

Turn heating and cooling off. Leaving HVAC on for 24 hours a day can double your costs. Make it someone’s responsibility to check that all heating and cooling is turned off at the end of the day, especially on weekends or install a timer which will turn off your systems outside of business hours.

Keep doors and windows closed. An open door can waste up to 50 per cent of HVAC energy costs. Make sure external doors are closed as well as any internal doors that can isolate rarely used areas. Ensure that doors and windows have tight seals and remain closed when possible.

Adjust thermostats. Make sure thermostats are set appropriately. Winter temperatures should be 18–20°C while in summer a temperature of 24–25°C should be comfortable. Allow for a ‘dead band’ of 20° to 24°C where neither heating nor cooling will occur. Areas that are used infrequently such as storerooms and toilets can be set at 16°C in winter, which can decrease heating costs for these areas by about 30 per cent. Encouraging staff to dress appropriately for the season will assist them to find these conditions comfortable.

Turn off equipment. Powered equipment and lighting produce heat. Turning off equipment that is not in use can substantially reduce cooling requirements. Again consider placing equipment on timers to ensure it is turned off.

Allow airflow. If using a ducted HVAC system ensure furniture, drapes and other items are clear of the vents or outlets to ensure free airflow.

Use a zoning system. Many ducted HVAC products enable you to zone your building so not all areas have to be heated or cooled at the same time. Make sure this is optimised to service only the areas that are in use. Alternatively, vents in unused areas can be shut, providing at least 80 per cent of the systems vents remain open while the system is in operation.

Low Cost Options

Maintenance. HVAC systems, whether a fully programmable ducted system or a portable fan heater require regular maintenance. Maintenance should include ensuring that equipment is dust free, cleaning burners and air conditioner coils, replacing and cleaning air filters and checking ducts and pipe insulation for leaks or damage.
A well maintained system costs less to run and provides better performance. It is a good idea to perform a pre-season check prior to the winter heating and summer cooling periods to ensure that your system will function efficiently when required.

Audits. For businesses with significant HVAC equipment, it may be worthwhile have the systems professionally audited for energy usage and efficiency. Auditors can advise on efficiency improvements too.

Control Systems: Ensure systems are properly maintained. Often it is worth replacing older systems, especially pneumatic systems, with newer electronic systems. Check system programming especially hours of operation and temperature settings.

Outside Air Control: Use fresh outside air when the outside air temperature is cooler than the required internal temperature. Don’t cool air unnecessarily.

Install thermostats. Install thermostats for systems without them. Also ensure sensors are located in the areas conditioned by the systems they control, as often building changes can mean sensors become incorrectly placed. Thermostats should be installed in the main work areas away from heat sources and draughts. Place locking covers over thermostats to prevent staff unnecessarily altering any settings.

Install timers. Timers can be used to switch heating and cooling systems off ensuring they are not left on after hours. Timers can be fitted to central systems and can also be used at the power points of portable heaters. Optimise the system operating times to ensure the building is comfortable while the HVAC operates for the minimum time.

Fit air deflectors. Air deflectors fitted to floor outlets of ducted systems will force the air into the centre of the room, providing better temperature control.

Fit automatic door closers. Automatic door closers fitted to external or internal doors will reduce draughts and decrease space needed to be heated or cooled, making HVAC systems more efficient.

Use portable heaters and coolers. In some circumstances use of a portable heater is more cost effective than a central system. Small electric fan heaters, column or radiant heaters, portable coolers or fans may be more appropriate when there is a small number of staff working in a large area or they are working outside of normal business hours.

Investment Projects

Install insulation. Insulation will provide significant cost savings and can be placed in ceilings, exterior walls and wall cavities. New technology has made the installation of insulation into existing buildings much easier to undertake and much less expensive.

Install shades and blinds. Installing interior blinds with pelmets and exterior blinds for shade can provide significant benefits. With new technologies in window furnishings there are fabrics suitable for all sorts of applications, including retail display windows. The heating effect of sunlight can be decreased while maintaining light and vision for staff or customers. In addition to blinds, consider outside shading of sunexposed glass using deciduous trees or awnings.

Use energy efficient equipment1. When purchasing HVAC equipment make sure it is energy efficient as there are significant variations in equipment efficiency. Some products are star rated according to their energy efficiency (see Purchasing products with a high-energy efficiency rating will allow you to save on energy costs as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on the age and type of equipment, it may be more cost effective to install new efficient equipment prior to the old equipment failing. Install ducting with high R values. Additionally, purchasing energy efficient lighting and equipment can reduce cooling requirements and costs as this will reduce the heat produced in the work environment.

Check equipment size1 When selecting equipment ensure that you are choosing the right product for the job. Use an expert to assess your needs, as a system that is too large or too small will not only waste energy but also increase your energy costs. Take time to accurately work out the space you require to be heated or cooled, as well as operating times and conditions specific to your environment so that you can choose the right sized equipment for your purposes. Choose appropriate sized ducting and ducts.

Make considered building selection and design decisions

Whether you are choosing a new premise to lease or purchase, or designing a new building, you should consider a number of factors that will significantly affect your HVAC costs. Take into consideration factors such as insulation, direction, size and type of windows, shading, roofing material, natural ventilation and ensure that the HVAC plant and equipment is commissioned to design specifications and temperature settings. Group similarly conditioned areas together to reduce heat loss/gain between dissimilar work areas.

Recycle heat from hot water systems. If your business uses hot water in its processes this can be piped back into your building and be utilised as a source of space heating. For complex equipment upgrades and system design, technical advice and professional help is usually necessary. While these projects require larger investment, payback and savings still make them an attractive option.

Additional Benefits

Improved comfort and ambiance. By optimising the performance of your HVAC system you will not only save money but increase staff and client comfort levels.

Improved staff performance. How often do you hear complaints of your workplace being too hot and stuffy in winter and too cold and dry in summer? Overheated and dehydrated staff are unlikely to perform at their best. Having a more efficient HVAC system means a more responsive system that provides a healthier and comfortable work environment and consequently more productive staff.

Case study

Honda Australia’s facility at Tullamarine, Victoria, services Honda dealerships throughout Australia as well as providing a spare parts service. A focus of their emissions reduction strategy plan was to create more energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Energy saving strategies that were investigated included:

Implementation of these measures have the potential to lead to a 10 per cent reduction in gas usage for factory heating, saving 34 tonnes of CO2-e per year.2

1 For complex equipment upgrades and system design, technical advice and professional help is usually necessary. While these projects require larger investment, payback and savings still make them an attractive option.

2 Emission savings based on research undertaken by the student placement initiative run through North Link/NIETL and RMIT University, in partnership with the Greenhouse Challenge Plus program, and are estimates only.

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